“Sir, I am in deep trouble.. you’re the one I am sharing this with because I know you are understanding.. I am not yet ready sir,” read the text message my former student Brent (not his real name) sent me.
Sensing what the problem was, I replied with a question, “How many months?” to which the eighteen year old answered, “Two to three, sir… I know it’s my fault, but I am not really ready.”
Then Brent asked me if I know any abortionist they could go to. I was shocked.
Part of the subject Sociology 1, I teach Family Planning to my students, and because I believe in free, informed, and responsible choice, I present both the natural and artificial birth control methods. But never have I encouraged abortion, fully aware of its risks and its ethical and legal implications. In fact, I always tell my students that If anyone of them unwillingly gets pregnant or impregnates anyone by chance, I will take it as my personal failure as a teacher.
I tried to talk to Brent against resorting to abortion, but he was firm and resolute. He and his girlfriend have talked about it seriously and there is really no way, and giving birth to the baby is no longer an option for them. He said they want a medical doctor to perform the procedure to make sure it’s safe, and he asked me again if I can recommend anyone.
I don’t know any doctor who performs abortion, I told him, and even if I do, I would not make any recommendation. And what self-respecting doctor would perform abortion here in Laoag City? But I assured Brent that I am not judging them as persons despite what they were planning to do, for I am sure they have really given the matter a great deal of thought leading to their firm conviction that abortion is the only solution to the biggest problem they have had to face in their teenage lives. I assured him of my prayers. He reminded me that the matter is confidential.
Two weeks later, Brent texted again. “Successful, sir,” he said, “a doctor performed it.” And when he told me who the doctor was, I was startled. I was in great disbelief.
I have known the doctor since childhood, and she has always appealed to me as a conservative woman, a devoted churchgoer. She sent her children to Catholic schools. In her clinic in Laoag City, she administered the birth of my sister. Two decades later, she also let my sister’s son see the light of day.
It took a while before it could really sink in… that Doktora is an abortionist. When I asked around, however, I discovered that her acts are anything but a secret. She has indeed administered abortions too many. In an interview, a past president of the Ilocos Norte Medical Society (INMS) admitted that such activities of the lady doctor are not unknown in the medical circles. “So she is doing that until now?” the IMNS exec asked, indicating that the issue has long come to their attention. The INMS exec, however, could not remember any formal investigation conducted on the alleged abortion activities of the lady doctor, who is a member of the said medical society.
If indeed no probe has been conducted against the lady doctor regarding abortion, it could be because the INMS has not received any formal complaint. And there are two reasons I could think of why no one has filed a charge against the doctor: either all the abortions she has conducted were successful or victims of botched ones, if there were any, are not inclined to come forward and risk public condemnation for themselves.
I am not about to make a moral judgment on the doctor. Not now when the ideologically trailblazing Pope Francis emphasizes on love and compassion over “small-minded rules” on homosexuality, divorce, and, yes, abortion.
Still, I asked myself, why does Doktora do it? Then I rethought the case of Brent, only one of many who had been in the same predicament. If Brent and his girlfriend could not find any doctor to perform abortion, they would pursue it anyway by resorting to a hilot. With a hilot, risks are definitely higher, and the woman is prone to infection, risking her life in the process. In fact, many women who suffer from botched abortion procedures conducted by non-doctors end up being rushed to the hospital, and some of them—the mothers—would not survive.
On the other hand, if a doctor performs the abortion, it could be safer… but illegal just the same. And this leads some take a rather longer route to abortion. They go to the hilot to do the pis-it (pisil) where the baby will be killed inside the womb. Then they will proceed to the doctor to have the lifeless fetus removed from the womb through raspa. In this case, guilt is not in the hands of the doctor, because it was not she who killed the fetus. This scheme, however, is not only riskier, it is also more expensive. The hilot charges around P4,000-5,000.00 while the doctor-abortionist collects P10,000.00-12,000.00 for the procedure. This excludes the cost of medicines the patient has to take afterwards.
Going back to the doctor-abortionist, it is certain that she has performed several abortion procedures over the years. And I am not talking about legal abortion which could be performed if the life of the mother is in danger. I am referring here to abortions done simply because the parents do not want a baby, or another baby. I have gone to the doctor’s clinic and I observed that there’s a vacant lot behind it. I wonder if there is where the aborted fetuses are buried. It would be interesting to ask their neighbors if it were true, as many people claim, that they hear baby cries coming from the vacant lot at night.
An increasing number of countries have laws allowing abortion on request, that is for whatever reason the woman has. Pro-choice feminists view the right to an abortion as integral to a women’s right to sovereignty.
What do you think, dear karikna?